Sanfrecce beat Evergrande to advance to last 16

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, May 9, 2019
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Gao Lin (L ) of Guangzhou Evergrande FC vies with Gakuto Notsuda of Sanfrecce Hiroshima during the group F match between China's Guangzhou Evergrande FC and Japan's Sanfrecce Hiroshima at the 2019 AFC Champions League in Hiroshima, Japan, May 8, 2019. (Xinhua/Ma Caoran)

Sanfrecce Hiroshima confirmed their place in the knockout rounds of the 2019 AFC Champions League on Wednesday evening as the Japanese side handed two-time champions Guangzhou Evergrande a 1-0 defeat to secure one of Group F's two berths in the last 16.

Sho Sasaki was credited with the goal that ensured Hiroshi Jofuku's side would go through to the Round of 16 for only the second time in the club's history and for the first since 2014 while Guangzhou will have to wait another two weeks to learn their fate.

Fabio Cannavaro's side are now in third place in Group F, one point behind Daegu FC from Korea Republic, with the two clubs due to face off at Guangzhou's Tianhe Stadium on May 22 in a game the 2013 and 2015 champions must win to stay alive in this year's competition.

Hiroshima took the lead when Tsukasa Morishima's corner from the Guangzhou right found Sasaki at the near post and his deft touch steered the ball home, via the inside of Wei Shihao's calf.

The early goal allowed Jofuku's side to take command of the game and frustrated a Guangzhou side that struggled in attack without their injured talisman Anderson Talisca, who did not make the journey to Japan due to an injury picked up in the Chinese Super League. 

Without the Brazilian, Cannavaro's team lacked thrust in attack in the opening stages and it took until the later phase of the first half for the two-time winners to cause any serious trouble at the other end of the pitch.

Seven minutes before the interval Gao Lin smashed his shot from distance over the bar while four minutes later Zhang Xiuwei went closer to pulling Guangzhou level, only for his drive to be blocked just before the goal line by Hiroshima defender Yuuki Nogami. 

There was further frustration for the seven-time Chinese champions in the second period, with Guangzhou able to carve out few opportunities against the well-drilled Japanese defence.

Gao was restricted to another half-chance 15 minutes from time, when he pulled his shot across the face of goal and the China international had another look at the target as the clock ticked towards full time, only for Sanfrecce goalkeeper Keisuke Osako to comfortably collect and leave Gao and his Guangzhou teammates frustrated.

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